Wind Power

Energy and Climate Change written question – answered on 4th March 2014.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Conservative, Eddisbury

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether his Department's calculation that 6.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were avoided in the UK in 2011 by onshore wind alone includes emissions from construction of turbines and backup technologies.

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills , Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Minister of State for Portsmouth

The figures referred to are calculated as generation from onshore wind, multiplied by carbon dioxide emissions per GWh of electricity supplied from all fossil fuels. The quoted 6.3 million tonnes figure in 2011 has been revised to 6.4 million tonnes. As with the data gathered for all power generation technology, it does not include emissions from construction or grid connection.

Onshore wind power has a very small carbon footprint range relative to other energy generation technologies: between 8 and 20g CO2eq/kWh, taking into account emissions incurred during the manufacture, construction and decommissioning phases. The average emissions from fossil-fuelled power generation in the UK is around 700gCO2/kWh.

Back-up generation—including generation from gas, coal or biomass—is sometimes required to balance intermittent renewable generators as well as to cover demand spikes and other station outage. DECC has not estimated the gas turbine energy contribution (and therefore related CO2 emissions) to manage wind variability specifically, due to complex inter-dependencies of the power system operational parameters.1

1 Estimates of wind generation and CCGT emissions are taken from scenarios modelled for the Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan. Please see:

A range is given based on the range of generation estimates for onshore and offshore wind in the modelled scenarios. Estimates for onshore wind include both large and small scale.

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